My husband and I went abroad as United States immigrants right after college. I became an officer in a bank, while he worked for an international organization. Except for our being childless, life was good to us. We lived in a nice part of the city, entertained and traveled a lot. We also had a live-in househelp for decades—a privilege that came with my husband’s job. She was the daughter of the maid of my in-laws’ family in the province, who worked for them for 59 years until she died.
Two years ago my husband and I retired almost at the same time. We were married close to 40 years. Everything was going well, and I looked forward to doing nothing. Then my husband suddenly wanted a divorce, and said he was going to retire in Manila, without me. He sounded and looked like a complete stranger to me.
He made it known that he was bringing the househelp with him. I was not surprised. In our marriage, he was the fussy one—strict about well-pressed clothes, his food always varied and well presented, the house spic and span, with no lampshade crooked or picture frame askew. This househelp has been heaven-sent to him, he said, because she did everything he wanted.
But, I didn’t have any inkling of how their relationship evolved. It shocked me that there would be anything more between them at all. Seems like my husband had figured out he wanted to make a new life for himself—with her.
I am the bohemian, devil-may-care sort, who left the running of the house to the househelp, as long as she didn’t burn it down. I trusted her because I traveled constantly for my work. Despite my free spirit, I was a one-man woman who didn’t stray.
Now that I am piecing the puzzle together, I can see how his feelings for her started. He appreciated everything she did to make him happy at home, giving him a feeling of added security. Little did I know that he looked past her homely appearance and lack of sophistication.
I had no choice but to dry my tears and move on. I bought my little place, took up short courses in university and volunteered for causes. As for my ex-husband, he went home with her shortly, and got married. Last I heard, they had bought a farm in the south and are living the simple life.
Had he told me that’s what he wanted, I could have joined him in this goal. I loved him. It’s not like we didn’t have conversations. What hurt was he misjudged me and didn’t give me a chance to prove myself.
“Another one bites the dust,” a famous song said. It hurt you, it caught you off-guard, and as you signed your letter—you were shellacked! But you sound accomplished and self-sufficient, and therefore possess the right tools to get on. After having given your husband the best years of your life, he apparently didn’t appreciate them as much. What he took to heart was the everyday mundane satisfaction this househelp gave him, and, that translated into his affection for her.
Treat it as an awakening. Or rebirth. You’re at that ripe age for accomplishing what’s been on your mind, but couldn’t do while you were married. Now you’re single with nothing in your path to hinder you.
Though your hurt can’t be diminished, accept that it was meant to be. The bitter tears you’ve shed for him are past. You’re ready to tackle the next chapter head-on with your newfound strength, to become the person you’re meant to be. Countless women (and men) would kill to be in your place now. Make this bane a massive boon!
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